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Do i need anything else? i already have an advance medical directive and durable power of attorney? Do i need a will, trust?

Cypress, CA |

I don't have any real estate, only cash that is less 15,000 which my mom's name is also on my bank account. The only thing I can think of is I have a 401K and life insurance policy that I've designated to my mom, sister and brother as beneficiary. I may have a residual paycheck from my company and life insurance that my company give if I were to die. Would my family have a problem with my 401K and life insurance proceed from my company if I die and I don't have a will or living trust? Will I need to have those in place?

Attorney Answers 3


It *sounds* like you have everything in order and there will not be any problems. Perhaps you can name beneficiaries on your work assets, as well, (such as the life insurance.) Otherwise, it *should* be okay. I STILL would suggest that you meet with an estate planning attorney for a free consultation to see if there is anything else you should be thinking about, given your situation and your objectives, (which are not included as part of your summary).

James Frederick

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I agree with Mr. Frederick except to add the following:

You should prepare a will and a HIPAA release with the assistance of a qualified attorney. Here's why:

Your estate plan assumes that your mom will become the sole owner of your joint bank account upon your death, and correctly so. However, what if the two of you die in a common tragedy? What if both of you are seriously injured, she dies, and you have no ability to put another name on the account before you die?

A will will put to rest all these contingencies, and provide for the distribution of your personal property.

A HIPAA release will permit whomever you choose to talk to your doctors about the details of your physical condition. This document is especially important. You've prepared an advance directive, and that's terrific, but how do you expect your surrogate to obtain information from your doctors so that they know what medical decisions to make? That is the purpose of a HIPAA release. It is a creature of federal law, as opposed to the other documents we are discussing, which are creatures of state law.

You're wise to be placing your "ducks in a row." A qualified estate planning attorney will help you finish the job.

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James P. Frederick

James P. Frederick


We include HIPAA releases in our POA forms. If your POA does not have one, then it should. As for the other issue, most companies that allow you to designate beneficiaries also allow you to designate contingent beneficiaries. If the point is to avoid probate, which is what it sounds like, a Will is not going to allow you to do that. Meeting with a lawyer can help you finalize things, if necessary. If your DPOA was set up through a lawyer, I am sure they did this correctly.


You are an estate planning attorney's worst nightmare! You've got it all sewn up and there's nothing for one of us to do! At least it appears that way on the surface...
I would have an elder law attorney review your POAs to make sure that if you were to need MediCal that the PoA would be sufficient to do crisis planning (most PoAs are woefully inadequate)...

This is not legal advice. I am not your lawyer. You are not my client. You cannot rely on my response to your question. My response to your question is probably worth exactly what you paid for it. You don't get to sue me for anything. If you'd like to sue me, well you have to hire me first. Here's how you can hire me! #1 Call: 1-888-463-2843 #2 Email: #3 See me on TV! - go to the Ask the Expert tab! #4 Listen to my radio show (2 full hours every week!) - go to the podcast section.

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